Rafael Nadal meets Tomas Berdych in the semi-finals of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells on Saturday. Nadal beat Roger Federer and Berdych beat Kevin Anderson, both in straight sets in the quarter-finals. Berdych fares 3-12 against Nadal and has lost eleven straight times in the last seven years. Nadal is coming back after a long layoff due to injuries and is playing his first hard court tournament in almost a year.
Berdych has had some success against Federer, perhaps due to the fact that he can produce that type of aggression on his day which overtakes Federer’s aggressive play and induces him into errors. But his successes have not come that much against players like Nadal or Novak Djokovic who have supreme defenses beside controlled aggression.
Berdych serves well, but then the first percentage should go much beyond the 53% against Anderson. He has the height to counter the extra bounce on Nadal’s top spin, but has not been able to do it effectively. Nadal has better mobility, better forehand and better back hand than Berdych. Berdych has better serve and better capacity to abandon caution for aggression. But can he play like Lukas Rosol at Wimbledon 2012?
Nadal is playing his usual style and that can fetch the usual result in the semi-finals. His back hand worked better than usual against Federer in the quarter-finals. His angles will make Berdych run from side to side which is not Berdych’s forte. He also is not known for a great running shot. If however, he is able to hit a winner before the rally becomes long, he has a chance of blunting Nadal’s strong point. A few players take advantage of extra spun short balls from Nadal with extra-ordinary athleticism, but Berdych has not done it in the past given his 6’5” frame.
History is loaded against Berdych in this semi-final encounter and he will have to play a historical match to overcome Nadal on Saturday.